TravelCard vs Oyster

Jan 11th, 2017, 01:02 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 2
TravelCard vs Oyster

I am trying to determine if I should buy a Oyster Card or a Travel Card. We will be staying in London for a week. Three adults and 2 children ages 12 & 14. We will do two out of London day trips and spend the balance of our time in Zones 1 & 2. From my research it seems that 3 adult TravelCards and two children TravelCards seem the best option.

Can I purchase these cards at a train station ? Will we need to provide photos for the children.

Thank you for any assistance.
verrecchia is offline  
Jan 11th, 2017, 02:22 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,252
A 'travel card' is merely a fare. So you would get a 1 week travel card -- whether it is a paper 'travelcard' or a travelcard loaded on an Oyster makes no difference re cost - they are the sam ething.

The only reason on would want/need a paper travelcard instead of a travelcard on an Oyster is if you want to use the Days Out 2for1 discounts.

>>Can I purchase these cards at a train station ? Will we need to provide photos for the children.<<

If you opt for the paper travelcards then you can ONLY buy them in a train station and you would all need photos.
janisj is online now  
Jan 11th, 2017, 02:47 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,868
"You can't put a Travelcard on a Visitor Oyster card."

and you can buy them online:
Where can I buy a London Travelcard? Can I buy a London Travelcard online?
Buy your London Travelcard from the VisitBritain Shop and it will be mailed to you at your home address, ready to use for when you arrive in London.
DebitNM is offline  
Jan 11th, 2017, 03:00 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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No need for a 'Visitor' Oyster -- just a regular run of the mill Oyster bough on site will do. HOWEVER, if one wants to use the 2for1's they cannot pre-purchase them online. They'd need paper travelcards bought in a train station.
janisj is online now  
Jan 11th, 2017, 03:28 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,563
Ok, DebitNM has gummed up the works a bit here so let's try to clarify.

Bear with me, this may get long.

The Days Out 2for1 offers Janis referred to are often a VERY good reason to use a paper travelcard instead of an Oystercard. They're quite useless for single travelers, but you have five people and that means you can whack two admission fees when you use them. You do not say when you'll be in London, but some or all of these offers should be available up until July (they reload the offers so don't get fussed about the "available to April 30, 2017" statement on the website). Considering the high cost of London's fee-requiring sites like the Tower, St Paul's, Westminster Abbey (now on the 2for1!), Churchill War Rooms, Hampton Court Palace, etc., the two-fer deals are good to very good.

Consider the rack rates for the Tower = family pass for two adults and two kids = 63 plus 25 for a third adult (19.10 if s/he is a senior) is 88 quid. Two adults and two kids with the 2for1 offer cost 37 quid (25 for the adults, 12 for the kids) plus another adult entry (that last adult can get an advance purchase discount on the Tower's website. That's 26 quid in savings (or 20.40 off the online rate for the family entry) - or already close to the cost of a one-week travelcard. Hampton Court Palace's savings for two adults and two kids with 2for1 offers is 19.50 from the cost of family admission.

Now, we turn to the cards.

First, for some da-n fool reason, the Brits have both a "Visitor Oystercard" and an "Oystercard." And thus, the two statements above. They are different. After all, Oystercards are really for Londoners and they're not visitors to their own bloody town.

A Travelcard can be loaded onto an Oystercard.

A Travelcard cannot be loaded onto a Visitor Oystercard.

Second, here's more of the confusion and the reason that DebitNM's post is unhelpful when following upon Janis's - this information is directly from the 2for1 voucher website,

The following ticket types cannot be used for 2FOR1 offers:

Oyster Cards
TfL Issued Travelcards
[various others]

Remember that: NO OYSTERCARDS work with the 2for1 offers.

Now, if you buy a London Travelcard online from the website, you are buying a "TfL issued travelcard" and you CANNOT use that with the 2for1 offers Janis discussed above. In other words, if you use the links that DebitNM gave you and buy a travelcard, and try to use the vouchers for discounts, you cannot.

Instead, to use the 2for1 offers you MUST purchase a Travelcard at a national rail station (Charing X, Waterloo, Paddington, London Bridge, etc.) from a national rail ticket office - those are the ones on the same level as the M&S Simply Food store or the Boots pharmacy (ubiquitous).

What to bring to the UK: passport-sized headshots of the family members, any and all vouchers of interest (no limits on printing or usage).

What you should get will be a flimsy orange-bordered plastic-coated card the size of a business card. Get the one for Zones 1-2 unless you really need additional coverage.

Is this a whole lot of confusing hassle? Yes.

Can it save you a lot of money? Yes.
BigRuss is offline  
Jan 11th, 2017, 03:33 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,868
omg, my head is spinning....

thanks for 'splaining it, bigruss
DebitNM is offline  
Jan 12th, 2017, 12:54 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 841
To compliment BiRuss's info:
Hooameye is offline  
Jan 12th, 2017, 07:25 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 2
Deciphering the Aztec calendar may be less confusing than these travel options but you have been a great help.

We will be in London in July and visiting many of the major sites mentioned. Our best option seems to be to get the paper TraveCards so we can take advantage of the 2-4-1 offers

Thank you for your help.
verrecchia is offline  
Jan 12th, 2017, 07:32 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,252
Yes -- that is probably your best option (and a big thanks to BigRuss for explaining the details)

Actually -- just travel/transport is flat easy.

It is the 2for1 that throws a spanner in the works. And that is really a promotion that is aimed at getting UK residents to take day trips by train (not just to London - there are offers all over the country). It was never intended for foreign visitors buying train tickets (which is essentially what paper travelcards are) to travel around on the tube and get into sites cheap.

But that 'loophole' exists so it is a BIG benefit and can save some people a fortune.
janisj is online now  
Jun 21st, 2017, 06:48 PM
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 45
Thank you! Thank you! BigRuss. It is exactly what we all need regarding Oyter, Paper Travel Card, and 2 x 1.

Thanks too to Hooameye for the Trip Advisor link.
steelmagnolia is offline  
Jun 21st, 2017, 10:12 PM
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 721
Many sights have family tickets which may work out cheaper than 2-4-1
dotheboyshall is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2017, 07:55 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,563


Buying family tickets at the site will never save you money over the 2for1 deals. Example: the Tower is 70 GBP or so for a 2 adult/2 hobbit ticket. The 2for1 deal beats that easily and you can cover lunch and then some with the difference. Buying family tickets online narrows the gap. But as long as you are going to be in London for 5+ days of actual use (e.g., day 1 or day 5 is not solely devoted to going to the airport or train and flying/riding elsewhere), the 2for1 deals will beat the family tickets.
BigRuss is offline  

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